You’ve probably heard on the TV show The Biggest Loser, that angry and energetic trainer Jillian Michaels also hawks vitamins. So my wife buys a pack from Jillian’s website, which then started a series of communications that made it seem like Jillian was emailing my wife personally. After buying the vitamins, my wife received an email invitation to watch an ab workout video by Jillian. Later on, my wife went back to Jillian’s website, where she read an article on some exercise programs. She then received an email about the Jillian Michaels Wii workout game.
Unbeknownst to her, my wife had entered a web of possible interactions directed at her and how she interacted with Jillian’s company. These were no coincidences–she was in an automated marketing campaign, and a very well run one at that. As complicated as this growing trend sounds, it’s really something even the smallest business can get into.
Recently I attended a conference put on by Salesforce with more than 40,000 marketing and sales professionals, and Marketing Automation was one of the hot concepts. I have to say I love this concept because Marketing automation has nothing to do with just sending as much communication as possible like older online marketing approaches. Instead the focus is on sending just the communication the customer wants, right when they’re engaged and ready to receive it.
Look at it from the customer’s point of view. If I came to your website shopping for black dress shoes and walked away without purchasing, wouldn’t it make sense for you to send me an email about black dress shoes while i’m still considering buying? Marketing campaigns stop being SPAM and start being relevant when you put in the automation.
The best part? It doesn’t take much to get started. With an entry level email marketing tool such as Constant Contact or Salesforce.com, you can start your journey down the automation path immediately. Here are a few guidelines to consider:
- First, find ways to segment your customers by asking questions, providing downloads, putting up content. You can even do this manually. When you get a chance to interact with a customer find out if they should be in your newsletter campaign or if they just want to hear about coupons. These little adjustments lead to better results.
- Don’t feel like you have to contact every lead. There is a time when leads move into their purchasing phase that it’s appropriate for sales to be in touch. Until then just provide people the information they need to be educated about their upcoming buying decision.
- Direct your campaigns at those customer personas that convert the most. You may find that the highest converting customer persona is different than who you target today. Be open to adjusting your beliefs about your customers. To boil this down it just means find a way to identify who your customer really is, even if you have to survey them. I know a company who thought their customers were all 20-30-year-old men, when they did a survey they were STUNNED to find out most of their customer were 50+ women.
- Let your customers decide when they want to be engaged. Campaigns can be interaction-based, rather than time-based. So a customer can get an email after they visit your site, or read your newsletter. Don’t schedule an email every Tuesday at 2 p.m. when they’re busy. (Even the least expensive email marketing applications like Constant Contact can do interaction-based triggers on some level.)
The trick is, start small-try out these points, then eventually grow into more complicated and larger systems like Eloqua that can take your automation to levels you never imagined possible.
If you are doing this on any level, please share your experiences and tips below. And if you’re not, and you have questions, also comment below.